A Pedalpalooza-Free Pedalpalooza

It was peaceful. It was enlightening. It occasionally required the aid of a sponsor.

It was a Pedalpalooza-free Pedalpalooza!

Of course, I was Pedalpalooza-free last year as well because I was in Montana. But this time it was a very deliberate choice which, at times, was hard to stick to.

But I did!

Well, except for one event.

One particularly sunny day (rare in Portland, even in June now) I was desperate for a bike ride and to get out of the house. Since I was already having an email conversation with a bikey friend, I decided to ask about the ride his girlfriend was leading that evening—it wasn’t really a Pedalpalooza ride, was it? And I wouldn’t know anybody coming except him—right? His answers were sufficient, except for one. I pretended he said it definitely wasn’t a Pedalpalooza ride, and headed out.

While riding to the meet-up location, my mind percolated. Pedalpalooza rides generally start in the central part of the city. Where I am located in Portland, this requires an hour or more just to get to the ride start. Then about another hour to ride home, depending on the end location. The ride I attended was about four hours long, not including the estimated three hours of post-ride hangout time in the host’s backyard. I departed shortly after our backyard arrival but combined with my travel time, that was a six-hour commitment for one ride!

The next morning my mother called me on my attempted self-delusion—our take-away from the ride had the word PEDALPALOOZA emblazened across the front in handwritten script. So I suppose I need to own up to the fact that yes, I went on one Pedalpalooza ride. The most insidious habits often feature a lapse or two, right? (Why am I referring to Pedalpalooza as an “insidious habit?” That’s a can of worms for another day.)

I’ve been doing the Pedalpalooza thing since 2005. That’s the year the photo above was taken—back when Multnomah County Bike Fair was exciting enough to me that I took photos. This is the annual endcap to Pedalpalooza—there are tents with vendors, some free activities, and competitions. The only problem? It is almost the exact same event year after year. To try and keep it exciting, two times I volunteered to help someone else with a booth at the fair. Both experiences left me with a bad taste in my mouth—although one made a good, albeit horrifying, story that I’ve related from time to time.

Eschewing Pedalpalooza is indicative of a larger crossroads that I’ve been trying to navigate since returning to Portland. It’s also tough to talk about because I know a lot of people who put a ton of hard work into planning Pedalpalooza and its associated events. Riding my bike is definitely important to me, but I think I need to start doing things in a new way else my enjoyment is likely to start draining. As a reader of Bikish, I’m sure you’d rather see happy, inspiring tales of discovery rather than bitter, terse observations of the same old thing. Am I right?


Filed under Bicycles

6 responses to “A Pedalpalooza-Free Pedalpalooza

  1. Jenny

    Sing it sistah! With you on all fronts, particularly the time calculations–for the past few years I’ve automatically ixnayed any ride that starts more than ~30 min from my home or ends at an unknown destination, bc I don’t have the time or energy to devote ~2 hrs to commuting >solo< to and from a ride, not matter how appealing it may be.

    However, I was not as 'successful' as you; my nostalgia for days gone by, when I ~enjoyed~ SchpaddleSchpadoodle, got the better of me and I attempted the vanishingly few rides that met my departure parameters. And…I left three of the four within half an hour. One was simply (and unexpectedly) not fun at all for me (but was HUGE fun for everyone else), and the other two were overcrowded and involved WAY more standing around than I was willing to do (wait while 50 ppl doff their shoes, wander through a 500 SF home and reshoe? not so much with the bikey fun!). The only one I stayed with was a ride up into NoPo (Smith & Bybee)–my favorite ride anyway, so why not enjoy it with some other folks for a change?

    Although I'm a bit ambivalent about renouncing an event that previously brought me so much joy, we've parted ways and it's time for me to move on. I'll continue to lead my own monthly rides, and offer them on the Shift calendar, but with the hope of casting a wider net (like you, doing things in a new way) and bringing together a more diverse group.

    Good luck out there!


    (possibly too long for a 'comment'–sorry!)

    • Jenny, I hear what you are trying to say. But in regards to “casting a wider net” I feel that Pedalpalooza is possibly the best way to do that, since the printed calendar goes out in the Mercury and people not normally associated with “bike fun” see it and participate. The rest of the year it’s harder to get that type of attention.

      Now saying that I feel that the Pedalpalooza rides that are doing the best (and will rope in those that aren’t affiliated with Shift) are the pop culture/dance party rides that I mentioned previously. It didn’t seem like my rides did particularly well this year, especially in comparison to previous Pedalpaloozas. I think I had like 60 people the last time I did Dead Freeways Ride back in 2010, this year I only had 10 (and of that only seven stuck it out until the end.)

  2. And now of course we are now interested in what ride you went on! (Though I’m guessing I’ll never find out.)

    I don’t think I’m to the point that either you or Jenny are in regards to Pedalpalooza ambivalence, but it doesn’t “do it” for me like it used to. I went to more rides than either of you and like more of the social/party/stand around rides more than I feel either of you would (though not as much as April, mind you.) But it’s lost its “special-ness.” The rides I attended or led were more of the ride longer/go camping/see historical shit category. Seems like the party themed rides are on the uptick, and since they remain popular, will grow in size and numbers next year. I’m bored of the “eighties pop-culture reference” dance party rides. And a lot of the non-dance party “pop-culture reference” rides don’t do much for me, either.

    I did swing by MCBF, even though I wasn’t planning on it. It was cool to talk to friends. And I think there was tall bike jousting and some bands. Didn’t pay attention to it, don’t think most people did, either.

    • Wonder no more—I went on the Comic Book Ride. There were a couple of others that seriously tempted me. The history ride seemed like it would probably be large enough that I would have to struggle to hear the speaker(s). My sponsor convinced me on the longer second one (that was meeting up a mere mile from my house!) that I could do the same ride by myself and probably get more pleasure out of it. Plus, the sky was doing its Oregon thang that morning.

      You’re totally right about the 80s pop-culture thing. I too noticed was that there was a needless proliferation of “This” vs. “That” rides and dance parties. Which probably should be taken as a high compliment to the originator of the Bowie vs. Prince ride…

      At any rate, if you and/or April would like to come riding with me in the next month as I prepare for my trip, I’d love to see either or both of you! I’m hoping to tackle the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway one of these days, and now’d be a great time to do it since I’m looking for distance and hills in the next month.

      • I too noticed was that there was a needless proliferation of “This” vs. “That” rides and dance parties. Which probably should be taken as a high compliment to the originator of the Bowie vs. Prince ride…

        Maybe we need to do some this vs. that rides that are history based! Wobblies vs. Pinkertons or something.

        Are you talking about the NW History Ride? Yeah, there were a bunch of people. They had an amplified speaker, but it didn’t cut it.

        Yeah maybe on the HCRH ride. Where are you traveling to?

        And I think you would have fun on the Pedal Potluck Picnic at the end of this month!

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